Montessori views the child as naturally eager for knowledge and capable of initiating their learning, even at a young age. When this child is placed in a supportive, thoughtfully prepared environment, the child instinctively seeks a rich learning experience through exploration, discovery and creativity. This occurs under the guidance of a trained teacher who encourages the children to work freely, pursuing their interests and making choices for themselves in the learning process.
The Montessori Method of education was developed by Dr. Maria Montessori, over 100 years ago, based on her scientific observations and conclusions about how children learn. She developed materials and methods based on her findings that you will find in use around the world in over 3,000 schools. It is an approach that values the human spirit and the development of the whole child.
There are several hallmarks to the Montessori education that you will find to be consistent across schools:
In a Montessori school, children are grouped by age, encouraging children to learn from their peers. Older children build confidence as they assist the younger students, and the act reinforces their learning and helps them retain information. This structure provides the opportunity for children to be leaders and teachers, bringing them joy as they witness the impact of their instruction on the younger students.
Child-Centered, Hands-On Learning
Dr. Montessori (1870-1952), an Italian physician, found that children naturally absorb knowledge from their surroundings. In a Montessori classroom, you will find hands-on materials intended to develop a child’s love of learning, independence, concentration, and curiosity, throughout his or her stages of development. The Montessori Philosophy teaches and builds educational skills through hands-on learning and discovery, allowing each child to explore the world around them.
Before the age of six human beings are in a unique phase of learning and development. Dr. Maria Montessori described these stages as sensitive periods of development. There are five sensitive periods from birth to age six, they include language, order, refinement of the senses, movement and social relations.
Individualized Work with a Sense of Purpose
Children perform well academically in a Montessori program because each lesson builds on the individual child’s curiosity. The child’s thoughts are heard, considered, and pondered. He or she understands that going through the learning process and asking questions is important and encouraged. In Montessori education, solutions are discovered—rather than given—in a way that encourages and sparks the curiosity of the child.
Long work times allow children to choose assignments and work for hours without interruptions. In traditional education methods, children are frequently required to change subjects—which makes large projects more fragmented and difficult. The long work periods a Montessori classroom provides allow children the time and space to perform a more in-depth discovery of the subject being explored.
Educating the Whole Child
A true Montessori Philosophy works on the entire child, including their social and emotional development.
Studies published by American Montessori Society have founds that students who attend Montessori educational programs have the ability to communicate orally, cooperate, think critically, and to view the human experience and how it relates to the constantly changing world.
Every day, children are given the opportunity to learn social skills such as resolving disagreements in a peaceful manner, or collaborating with others on a project. Children learn skills that will last a lifetime, such as planning out their time, being intrinsically motivated, and socializing in a respectful manner. Thinking and problem solving in all areas of learning is rooted in this philosophy.
Montessori teachers receive specialized training above and beyond the requirements for traditional educators. They are trained to closely monitor students’ progress, keeping the level of challenge high. Teachers ask the right questions and lead the children to discover the answers for themselves. Learning then becomes its own reward and each success will fuel their desire to discover even more!